Getting kids to do their chores can be a challenge!
The few times you catch them with brooms and mops, they’re using them to play sword-fighting or pretending to be witches rather than helping around the house. While it’s natural for children to love to play, teaching them to do chores early on will equip them with valuable skills, boost their confidence, and set a good foundation for them to grow into responsible adults.
Of course, in the beginning, your kids may not be keen to help. As a parent, you might be wondering, is there some magic way to get my kids to do their chores without having to nag? A good trick would be to ease them slow into the habit. Start them with simple tasks they can already do well at their age. The younger the kids are, the easier it will be to instill new habits. Try to frame it as less of a “chore” and more part of their natural routine and contribution to the household.
Should you give your kids an allowance for doing their chores? It can motivate them, but studies show that this practice can be counterintuitive since their behavior would depend on extrinsic rewards rather than their own sense of responsibility.
Reward them instead with a healthy amount of encouragement and praise. Show your kids that chores can be an empowering activity, allowing them to feel like “one of the grown-ups” when they can do things for themselves.
Here is a list of age-appropriate chores you can teach your kids:
Clean up toys and books after playing
It’s never too early to teach your toddler the value of cleaning up after themselves. One way to do this is by showing them how to put away their toys and books after they’re done playing with them. Talk to them about how much easier it is to walk around when the floor is clear, and how quick it is to find things that are placed back where they’re supposed to be instead of being scattered around the house. This will teach them that there is a reward in keeping their space neat and tidy.
Feed the family pets some treats
Treating your pets to some tasty bites is another easy task for young children to do around the house. Give them some doggie biscuits to hand out to their furry friends, sprinkle some feed into the fishbowl, or teach them to fill their cat’s bowls with catnip or water. Always do this activity with adult supervision.
Take care of the garden and house plants
As children grow, they may cultivate a curiosity for the world outside. Allow them to explore and poke around the garden. If you keep indoor plants, you can teach your kids how to water them, check their soil, and make sure they get enough sunlight.
Prepare an easy and simple snack
At ages 4 and 5, one of the most important lessons is teaching your kids how to feed themselves independently. You can start by teaching them to prepare their own bowl of milk and cereal or by showing them how to pour orange juice or milk into a glass. Though these might seem easy for us as adults, your kids will benefit from exercising the fine motor skills needed to ensure they don’t spill their food. Don’t forget to keep some child-friendly snacks on your cabinet’s lower shelves for easy reach!
Sweep, mop, and take out the trash
At 6-7, you can begin to train your children to become your little helpers by allowing them to take over simple cleaning tasks around the house. Show them how to dust, sweep, and mop. Afterwards, allow them to pick whichever they are interested in. Younger children can pitch in by taking out the trash. Remember to try not to be too nit picky while your children are still learning. Cleaning should be a relaxing, family activity that you enjoy together!
Sort and fold the laundry
While your children may be too young to handle the washer and dryer, they can always help lighten your load by sorting the laundry. It’s a small task, but you can save a lot of time by teaching them to sort darks and lights, and ensure all the pairs of socks are together. Afterwardtheycan help you hang the washed clothes to dry, and fold clothes after.
Help with meal preparation and cooking
Children should be capable of helping prepare simple dishes at home by age eight Show them how to use knives (only ever with adult supervision!), especially teaching them to protect their hands as they learn to slice and chop. From there, you can slowly introduce simple tasks that they can manage on their own such as stirring a pot, sautéing onions and garlic, or boiling pasta.
Clear the table and wash the dishes
Family meals are most important for teaching children to eat properly and practice table manners. Before you allow your kids to be excused from the table, teach them to clear up the dishes and utensils that they used, instead of waiting for someone else to pick up after them. When your kids feel ready, you can start teaching them to help with the dishes. Break it down into smaller tasks first, for example, taking over the washing while they do the drying. Alternate and take turns, assigning a different family member or child to set the table, another one to clear it, another one to help with the dishes every night of the week.
Age 10 and older
Wash the family car
At age 10, you can begin introducing your kids to more advanced chores such as washing the car. It can be a nice bonding activity as well. Show them how to scrub the car doors and windows with soapy water, and then rinse everything off with a gardening hose. Younger children can join in by removing trash from the car seats and pockets and vacuuming the car’s interiors.
Babysit younger siblings
The older your kids get, the less you need to constantly watch and supervise them. In fact, at age 10, most children can take care of themselves and others. When needed, you can ask your 10-year-old to babysit their younger siblings or cousins. This teaches them excellent lessons in being responsible and caring for others. Just make sure not to leave them completely alone and to still check in with them every now, and then, as they are still children.